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Exoplanet Exploration Program
News & Announcements
Click here to read: NASA picks two teams to advance concept for precision planet hunter
July 2, 2015

On a rugged Arizona mountaintop, astronomers will soon switch on a new, state-of-the-art instrument to hunt for planets circling distant stars: the Extreme Precision Doppler Spectrometer (EPDS).

Click here to read: Mars-size planet orbits distant star

Scientists measured both the size and mass of a small planet orbiting a star some 200 light years away--a first for an exoplanet smaller than Earth.

Click here to read: Final Reports from the Probe-Scale Exoplanet Mission STDTs (Exo-S and Exo-C) released

The Final Reports from the Probe-Scale Exoplanet Mission STDTs (Exo-S and Exo-C) have been released and are available online.

Click here to read: WFIRST-AFTA 2015 Study Report Released

The 2015 Report by the Science Definition Team and the WFIRST Study Office for the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope-Astrophysics Focused Telescope Assets has been released to the pubic.

Click here to read: Extreme Precision Doppler spectrometer on the WIYN 3.5-m telescope

A Pre-Proposal Workshop and WIYN telescope familiarization site visit will be held on March 17-18, 2015 in Tucson. Step-1 proposals are due 20 March 2015. More info:

Click here to read: WIYN 3.5-m Exoplanet-targeted Observing Opportunities

NOAO has released their call for semester 2015B exoplanet-targeted GO proposals, due 31 March 2015. More info:

Click here to read: Call for ExoPAG Executive Committee Nominations

The Astrophysics Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate is pleased to issue this open call for nominations to serve on the Executive Committee (EC) of NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration Program Analysis Group (the ExoPAG EC).

Click here to read: New Solicitation - Extreme Precision Doppler Spectrometer

This notice is to announce the release by NASA of an amendment to the ROSES-2014 NASA Research Announcement (NRA) soliciting proposals for development of an Extreme Precision Doppler Spectrometer for the Wisconsin, Indiana, Yale and NOAO (WIYN) 3.5-m telescope at Kitt Peak.

Click here to read: TDEM 2014 Pre-proposal Briefing Announcement

An informational workshop will be held January 20, 2015, 1:00 - 2:40 pm EDT to assist TDEM-14 proposers.

Click here to read: Update to the 2012 Astrophysics Implementation Plan

The NASA Astrophysics Division has released a 2014 Update to its 2012 Astrophysics Implementation Plan.

In December 2012, the Astrophysics Division issued an Astrophysics Implementation Plan describing how the recommendations of the 2010 Decadal Survey were to be realized by NASA within the constrained fiscal landscape.

Click here to read: ExoPAG Study Analysis Group 11 Report: Preparing for the WFIRST Microlensing Survey

The SAG-11 Report is now available. SAG-11 (Chair: Jennifer Yee, CfA) was convened to explore scientific programs that can be undertaken now, and in the years leading up to WFIRST's launch, in order to maximize the mission's scientific return and to reduce technical and scientific risk.

Click here to read: Imaging Planets and Disks
Imaging Planets and Disks - August 26, 2014

Presentations, posters and videos from the 2014 Sagan Exoplanet Summer Workshop Imaging Planets and Disks are now available at the NExSci website.

Click here to read: On the Shoulders of Giants: Planets Beyond the Reach of Kepler

Presentations from the conference held at the AAS Meeting in Boston, June 2014 are now available.

Click here to read: K2 Guest Observer – Cycle 1 announced

Proposals are invited for observations with the K2 high-precision photometry mission. Step-1 proposals are due August 8, 2014 and proposals are due September 23, 2014 .

Click here to read: K2 Mission Approved by NASA Senior Review

The Kepler spacecraft will conduct science observations in the ecliptic, for two years, in a two-wheel operation mode.

Click here to read: WFIRST-AFTA Interim Report Released

The WFIRST Science Definition Team (SDT), led by Neil Gehrels and David Spergel, has released its Interim Report on the WFIRST-AFTA mission concept

Click here to read: Exo-S (External Coronagraph, or Starshade) Interim Report Released

Exo-S (External Coronagraph, or Starshade) Interim Report Released

Click here to read: Exo-C (Internal Coronagraph) Interim Report Released

Exo-C (Internal Coronagraph) Interim Report Released

Click here to read: NRC releases report on WFIRST-AFTA

A prepublication report Evaluation of the Implementation of WFIRST/AFTA in the Context of New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics has been released by the NRC.

Click here to read: Kepler nearly doubles the exoplanet count

NASA's Kepler mission announced Wednesday the discovery of 715 new planets. These newly-verified worlds orbit 305 stars, revealing multiple-planet systems much like our own solar system.

Click here to read: Nearby star list available
Nearby star list available - February 18, 2014

Future efforts to image exoplanets directly will concentrate on the nearest and brightest stars. A catalog listing the properties of such stars is now available for use in planning such missions (e.g. WFIRST-AFTA).

Click here to read: Call for ExoPAG Executive Committee Nominations

Exoplanet scientists are encouraged to consider applying for Executive Committee of the ExoPAG. Application letters are due on Feb 28.

Click here to read: Message from Paul Hertz
Message from Paul Hertz - January 21, 2014

Astrophysics Division Director Paul Hertz discusses the state of the division and looks forward to 2014.

Click here to read: TDEM 2013 Pre-Proposal Briefing Announcement

A pre-proposal briefing for the NASA ROSES solicitation on exoplanet Strategic Astrophysics Technology (SAT/TDEM) will be held 1:00 pm (Eastern) on Tuesday, 21 January 2014.

Click here to read: NASA selects coronagraph technologies for AFTA

A primary and a backup architecture for the AFTA coronagraph have been selected for directed technology development, following the results of a study by the AFTA Coronagraph Working Group.

Click here to read: Alternate Science Investigations for Kepler

An open solicitation for alternate science investigations for the Kepler spacecraft has been released. White Papers are due on September 3, 2013. This covers operation of Kepler in a 2-wheel mode.

Click here to read: Kepler enters safe mode once again

The Kepler spacecraft has entered safe mode due to a problem with one of its reaction wheels.

Click here to read: Probe-scale STDTs selected

The Program Scientist for NASA's Exoplanet Exploration Program has announced the memberships of the Science and Technology Definition Teams (STDTs) for probe-scale direct detection exoplanet missions using an internal coronagraph or an external occulter.

Click here to read: 2013 Sagan Fellows announced

NASA has selected five planet hunters to receive the 2013 Carl Sagan Exoplanet Postdoctoral Fellowships. The fellowship, named for the late astronomer, was created to inspire the next generation of explorers seeking to learn more about planets, and possibly life, around other stars.

Click here to read: NASA Astronomer Interviewed
NASA Astronomer Interviewed - January 4, 2013

NExScI Executive Director Charles Beichman talks about exoplanets with KPCC's David Lazarus.

Click here to read: NASA Astrophysics Strategic Implementation Plan

The Astrophysics Division at NASA Headquarters has prepared a Strategic Implementation Plan to describe the activities currently being undertaken in response to the decadal survey recommendations within the current budgetary constraints.

Click here to read: Guyon the genius
Guyon the genius - October 11, 2012

Olivier Guyon has been named one of the 2012 MacArthur Fellows, a prestigious award popularly known as the “genius grant.”

Click here to read: AFTA Science Definition Team announced

NASA has announced the membership of a Science Definition Team for the Astrophysics Focused Telescope Assets. This team will study the suitability of the 2.4m telescope for WFIRST as well as a coronagraph instrument for exoplanet science.

Click here to read: Project 1640 now operating at Palomar

An advanced telescope imaging system that started taking data last month is the first of its kind capable of spotting planets orbiting suns outside of our solar system.

Click here to read: NASA's Kepler mission awarded mission extension

NASA's Kepler mission has been approved for extension through fiscal year 2016 based on a recommendation from the Agency’s Senior Review of its operating missions.

Click here to read: NASA announces 2012 Carl Sagan Fellows

NASA has selected six planet hunters as the recipients of the 2012 Carl Sagan Exoplanet Postdoctoral Fellowships, named after the late astronomer. The fellowship was created to inspire the next generation of explorers seeking to learn more about planets, and possibly life, around other stars.

Click here to read: Kepler mission wins 2012 Aviation Week Laureate Award

NASA's Kepler mission has been named the winner of the 2012 Aviation Week Laureate Award in the Space category, announced March 7 at the 55th annual black-tie awards dinner in Washington.

Click here to read: Kepler gets top props
Kepler gets top props - February 3, 2012

Kepler discoveries have been recognized as some of the biggest astrophysics news stories of the year.

Click here to read: NASA's Kepler mission finds three smallest exoplanets

Astronomers using data from NASA's Kepler mission have discovered the three smallest planets yet detected orbiting a star beyond our sun.The smallest is about the size of Mars.

Click here to read: Study shows our galaxy has at least 100 billion planets

Our Milky Way galaxy contains a minimum of 100 billion planets, according to a detailed statistical study based on the detection of three planets located outside our solar system, called exoplanets.

Click here to read: <i>Nature</i> honors Sara Seager
Nature honors Sara Seager - January 6, 2012

Seager featured as one of Nature's "10 people who mattered this year."

Click here to read: Kepler 16b named one of's Top 10 for 2011

"Star Wars gets real" - Time features Kepler 16b as #3 on list of "Top 10 Space Moments of 2011"

Click here to read: Roger Hunter is

Kepler project manager Roger Hunter is profiled in the latest edition of the Washington Post's "Federal Insider"

Click here to read: Kepler discovers planet in habitable zone

NASA's Kepler mission has confirmed its first planet in the "habitable zone," the region around a star where liquid water could exist on a planet's surface. Kepler also has discovered more than 1,000 new planet candidates.

Click here to read: Exoplanet Events at the 219th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society

Numerous exoplanet-related sessions and events will be happening at the 219th AAS meeting in Austin, TX. Click to see more.

Click here to read: NASA selects science investigations for concept studies

NASA has selected 11 science proposals, including three related to exoplanets, for evaluation as potential future science missions.

Click here to read: NExScI habitable zone tool now live

NExScI scientists Drs. Stephen Kane and Dawn Gelino have launched a web site called The Habitable Zone Gallery. This site is a new service to the exoplanet community which provides Habitable Zone (HZ) information for each of the exoplanetary systems with known planetary orbital parameters.

Click here to read: Snow White: the rosy, icy, dwarf

Astronomers have discovered that the dwarf planet 2007 OR10—nicknamed Snow White—is an icy world, with about half its surface covered in water ice that once flowed from ancient, slush-spewing volcanoes.

Click here to read: MIT students develop planet-finding CubeSat

A group of MIT students led by Sara Seager have developed a CubeSat designed to search for planets orbiting sunlike stars.

Click here to read: Kepler-10c and a new method to validate planets

Today Kepler team is announcing another member of the Kepler-10 family, called Kepler-10c - validated using a combination of a computer simulation technique called "Blender," and NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.

Click here to read: Free-Floating Planets May be More Common Than Stars

Astronomers, including a NASA-funded team member, have discovered a new class of Jupiter-sized planets floating alone in the dark of space, away from the light of a star. The team believes these lone worlds were probably ejected from developing planetary systems.

Click here to read: Picture potential
Picture potential - April 7, 2011

Astronomers have come up with a new way of identifying close, faint stars with NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer satellite. The technique should help in the hunt for planets that lie beyond our solar system, because nearby, hard-to-see stars could very well be home to the easiest-to-see alien planets.

Click here to read: NASA announces 2011 Carl Sagan Fellows

NASA has selected five potential discoverers as the recipients of the 2011 Carl Sagan Postdoctoral Fellowships, named after the late astronomer. The Carl Sagan Fellowship takes a theme-based approach, in which fellows will focus on compelling scientific questions, such as "Are there Earth-like planets orbiting other stars?"

Click here to read: Another Earth in Outer Space?
Another Earth in Outer Space? - February 14, 2011

Wall Street Journal's Michael Kofsky reports on Kepler's potential for finding a habitable exoplanet (video).

Click here to read: Kepler announces discovery of six-planet solar system and five Earthlike candidates

NASA's Kepler mission has discovered its first Earth-size planet candidates and its first candidates in the habitable zone, a region where liquid water could exist on a planet's surface. Five of the potential planets are near Earth-size and orbit in the habitable zone of smaller, cooler stars than our sun.

Click here to read: Kepler discovers first rocky planet

The Kepler mission has announced the discovery of Kepler 10b, the smallest exoplanet yet discovered and the first rocky world discovered by the Kepler mission.

Click here to read: WFIRST Science Definition Team (SDT) members selected

The WFIRST mission has selected its Science Definition Team (SDT) members, co-chaired by J. Green, Univ. of Colorado/CASA and P. Schechter, MIT (Co-Chair). For a full list of names, click here.

Click here to read: Keck Observatory pictures show fourth planet in giant solar system

Astronomers have discovered a fourth giant planet joining three others that, in 2008, were the subject of the first-ever pictures of a planetary system orbiting another star other than our sun.

Click here to read: Double vision: LBTI casts its eyes to the sky

The Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer has taken its first images of the star Beta Peg in the constellation Pegasus -- an encouraging start for an instrument designed to probe the cosmic neighborhoods where Earth-like planets could exist.

Click here to read: Kepler leaders to receive first Lancelot Berkeley Prize

The American Astronomical Society (AAS) is pleased to announce that the first Lancelot M. Berkeley - New York Community Trust Prize for Meritorious Work in Astronomy is being awarded to William J. Borucki and David G. Koch of the Kepler mission.

Click here to read: NStED access to periodogram service, public Kepler data and HATNet survey data

The NASA Exoplanet Science Institute (NExScI) is pleased to announce a significant update to the NASA Star and Exoplanet Database (NStED). Each of the 210,000+ public Kepler light curves are integrated with the newly-released NStED periodogram service.

Click here to read: Kepler discovers two planets transiting same star

NASA's Kepler spacecraft has discovered the first confirmed planetary system with more than one planet crossing in front of, or transiting, the same star.

Click here to read: Shao honored for interferometry contributions

Michael Shao, an expert in the field of optical systems engineering and manager of JPL’s Interferometry Center of Excellence, has received the 2010 Michelson Prize from the International Astronomical Union and the Mount Wilson Institute.

Click here to read: Kepler announces exoplanet candidates

NASA's Kepler Mission has released 43 days of science data on more than 156,000 stars. These stars are being monitored for subtle brightness changes as part of an ongoing search for Earth-like planets outside of our solar system.

Click here to read: Exploring Strange New Worlds: From Giant Planets to Super Earths

Astronomers are planning the 6th in a series of major international exoplanet conferences, to be held in Flagstaff, Arizona. Mark your calendar for May 1-6, 2011, and sign up on the conference website for more information.

Click here to read: Exoplanets Featured on

Robert Krulwitch discusses "The Fruitless Search For Solar Systems Like Ours."